New Report Highlights Opportunities for Leveraging Economic Benefits of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   November 17, 2010
Contact:   Joy Oakes, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3386 or C: 202.329.6815
Alison Zemanski, Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3332 or C: 202.384.8762


New Report Highlights Opportunities for Leveraging Economic Benefits of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Report highlights benefits of developing recreational amenities compatible with park’s historic character

Fredericksburg, Va. – As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today released a new report which highlights Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  The report, Making Connections: Linking Outdoor Recreation, Open Space & History at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and Nearby Communities, finds that the national park, with its four nationally-significant Civil War battlefields – Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania Court House, and The Wilderness–and the growing demand for recreational opportunities are strong economic drivers for the region.

“While national parks are created to protect America’s heritage, they have also become economic engines in their communities and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is no exception,” said Joy Oakes, NPCA’s senior Mid-Atlantic regional director.  “A park’s long-term economic benefits to its neighbors are directly linked to its integrity and its setting.  Localities can protect the park’s historic character, and meet growing demand for recreational opportunities, by developing new trails, local and state parks providing access to camping and water, and implementing other strategies that are compatible with protecting the park and the region’s historic character.”
 
The report finds that development threats to the region’s historic character are relentless.  Population growth in Fredericksburg and in Caroline, Orange, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties has outpaced that of Virginia and of the country for decades.  Spotsylvania and Stafford consistently rank among the fastest-growing counties in the state.  In 2003, a controversial development proposal on privately-owned portions of Chancellorsville battlefield in Spotsylvania County was resolved in a compromise that protects portions of the battlefield with development proceeding on sections less visible to the general public.  A controversial Walmart Superstore proposed on privately-owned portions of Wilderness battlefield in Orange County is currently in litigation. 

“According to the 2007 Virginia Outdoors Plan produced by the Commonwealth, in just 10 years, demand for tent campsites, stream access, and hiking and horse trails will far outstrip supply in much of the region around Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park,” said Oakes.  “This growing demand for recreational facilities suggests ways that the region can diversify its economic base, broaden its appeal to tourists, while also making the region a better place to live.”

A recent study commissioned by NPCA found that every federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars of economic value to the public.  As the report highlights, visitor spending in the area around the national park supported 450 jobs and more than $9 million in labor income in 2008 .

“The region can both protect its historic character and encourage economic development – it’s not an either-or situation,” said Oakes.  “In fact, encouraging economic development that is compatible with what makes this region special – its historic character and its natural beauty – will encourage those tourists who visit the area once to become repeat visitors.” 

The National Park Service predicts a dramatic increase in Civil War park visitation during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.  The region faces a remarkable opportunity to encourage development of recreational amenities in ways that both leverage the presence of the national park, and are compatible with the park’s historic character.  Thoughtful development of such amenities would benefit area residents, as well as the heritage travelers to the region.

The report also notes a number of related collaborative initiatives already underway that serve as models to be expanded upon, such as the Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative, the Stafford County Heritage Loop Trail, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the Spotsylvania First Impressions Commission, and the Fredericksburg historic preservation plan.

To view the complete report and its recommendations, please click here.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting our national parks. With more than 325,000 members and supporters, including more than 11,000 members in Virginia, NPCA is the largest independent, membership organization dedicated to protecting the natural, cultural, and historic treasures of our National Park System. Our mission is to protect and enhance our national parks today for our children and grandchildren tomorrow. 

 

[1] Stynes, D.J. National Park Visitor Spending and Payroll Impacts, 2008. National Park Service Social Social Science Program, 2009.

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